• Wed. Apr 14th, 2021

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Liberty University to investigate ‘all facets’ of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s presidency

Liberty University said it will conduct a “thorough investigation into all facets” of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tenure as president following his resignation last week amid a sex scandal.

Falwell, who was at the helm of the Virginia evangelical college for 13 years, resigned after a former hotel pool attendant-turned-business partner, Giancarlo Granda, 29, told Reuters in an interview published Aug. 24 that he carried on an affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki.

Granda told Reuters the affair began in 2012, when he was 20, and lasted until 2018. He said Falwell would watch as he had sex with his wife, and that he believes the couple preyed on him.

Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence since Aug. 7 after a series of other scandals.

Liberty University’s executive committee, speaking on behalf of its board of trustees said, in a Monday statement, “This past week challenged all of us to the core.”

Referring to Falwell, the statement said that although there were previously “questionable comments made, worrying behavior, and inappropriate social media post … all the signs were not there until the start of last week.”

Saying that it is “committed to learning the consequences that have flowed from a lack of spiritual stewardship by our former president,” the school has retained “one of the leading forensic firms in the world” to conduct an investigation “into all facets of Liberty University operations during Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tenure as President, including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters,” the statement said.

Representatives for Falwell could not be immediately reached by NBC News on Tuesday.

Michael Bowe, Falwell’s attorney, told Reuters last week, when asked about its initial reporting on the allegations by the former pool attendant, that his client “categorically denies everything you indicated you intend to publish about him.”

Falwell became president of the university in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 2007, upon the death of his father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.

The elder Falwell founded the school in 1971 and also organized the Moral Majority, a conservative political lobby group that espoused a “pro-family” agenda and which helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. The organization was disbanded in 1989.

Falwell Jr. was one of the first high-profile evangelical Christian leaders to endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Falwell’s problems mounted in recent months when he publicly apologized for a tweet showing a person in blackface and when he posted a photo to his Instagram account in which his shirt was up and he was holding a glass of dark liquid. The awkward image also showed him standing next to a woman, and his pants appeared to be unzipped.

Falwell apologized for the Instagram post during an interview with WLNI talk radio of Lynchburg.